english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

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Alternative Holiday Gift Guide: Pledges & Donations for Makers

I love a sewing-themed Christmas gift guide, but I thought it might be equally interesting to share some places you can currently donate/pledge to support sewing-themed campaigns. Four ways to show your support, and receive a little something in return too!

♥ Stitch in Time

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

The Royal Shakespeare Company is currently raising money to restore and redevelop their dedicated costume department in Stratford-upon-Avon. I was lucky enough to visit the Costume Department last year – you can read about my visit in an article I wrote for Seamwork magazine or on my blog.

The Stitch in Time campaign aims to allow the RSC to maintain and develop what is the largest in-house costume making department of any British theatre. Supporters (£30+) will receive invites to events about the project and costume making. Find out more or donate here.

William Whiteley & Sons EXO Scissors

EXO trio on black

I’m a great lover of a heritage British-made product (see my previous blog post about Ernest Wright & Son); William Whiteley & Sons, based in Sheffield, are the UK’s oldest manufacturers of scissors and shears, since 1760.

The company previously sold to trade only, but have recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to sell a new product (EXO tailors shears) direct to consumers. The Kickstarter campaign has already met its target, but there are still a few days left if you would like to get your hands on a pair of these scissors. Reportedly lighter and more ergonomic, the scissors have a nice modern (and unisex) look, and can be engraved for a small additional cost. Visit the Kickstarter page for more information.

Freesewing Patron


As someone who works in (or, at least on the periphery of) IT, I’m always really impressed by what Joost has created with Freesewing.org. In addition to sharing the open-source code for the site, and free sewing patterns, Freesewing also raises money for charity. You can now show some love to Joost and the other contributors, and donate to Freesewing’s chosen charity/charities, by becoming a Patron and making a small monthly donation.

For more info, read this blog post, and then visit the sign-up page.

In the Folds Printed Patterns


Emily of In the Folds has launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce printed versions of her – currently PDF only – patterns. The Kickstarter campaign is beautifully presented and I love Emily’s aesthetic. I recently made the free Jumpsuit pattern, and am looking forward to trying more In the Folds patterns (P.S. seven of the patterns are free!).

The Kickstarter campaign has already met its target, but there is still time to get your hands on a pattern or one of the other rewards. Visit the Kickstarter page for more information.


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Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

I do so love having unblogged garments to pack for a holiday! I made these Nina Lee Portobello Trousers a few weeks before heading off for a long weekend in Porto, but altered them the day we left. I spent the morning sewing and generally enjoying myself, so ended up getting dressed in all of ten minutes before flying out of the door, with make-up applied en route, and hair left to fend for itself (i.e. stick out in multiple directions).

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

These trousers are an example of something I’m trying to get better at – going back and altering ‘completed’ garments if there’s something that is preventing me from wearing them. I made these trousers without alteration initially and wore them to work a few times, but found the crotch very low on me, resulting in lots of excess fabric at the back. I also hadn’t reduced the length of the trousers enough, meaning I had to wear them with heels (I normally wear flats) to prevent them touching the floor. Phil tactfully called them Hammer Pants and requested a rendition of the U Can’t Touch This dance; I of course obliged (not pretty).

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

On my next version I’ll have a proper look at how the crotch curve fits me, but as an easy fix I removed the waistband and removed a couple of inches at the waist. This worked to raise the crotch and also shorten the length. They are currently back on my alterations pile as the waistband is now too loose, meaning they don’t sit on my natural waist as intended, but I’m looking forward to tweaking and then getting lots of wear out of them. I really love this style of high waisted and wide legged trousers, and the fabric is a lovely drapey wool from Barry’s Fabrics.

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

My current approach to those garments which do need minor alterations is to have a visible pile in my sewing room. Previously I’ve left garments in the wardrobe until I’m ready to alter them and the result is that they are out of sight and out of mind. For example, I’ve been meaning to make a couple of small alterations (reducing the length and replacing the buttons) to a Southport Dress since I made it in 2015 and finally got around to it once it was sat looking at me everyday. Sadly not in time for summer!

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

I’ve done so little sewing lately that I’m desperate to catch up with lots of exciting recent pattern releases, and Nina’s most recent pattern the beautiful Kew Dress is right at the top of that list. Like these trousers, I think Kew Version 1 will be perfect for the office.

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers


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Sewing Blog of the Year Nomination

craft awards 2018 vote for me

I’m lucky to have been shortlisted for ‘Sewing Blog of the Year’ at the Immediate Media British Craft Award for the second year in a row.

My lovely fellow bloggers shortlisted are as follows:


Voting is open until Sunday 17th December, and you can vote in one or more of the following categories: Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Quilting, Cross Stitch and Papercraft.


Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

It’s taken a while for this dress to make it to the blog, since I made it to wear to The Dressmakers Ball, organised by the team at Crafty Sew & So, back in May.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

In time honoured fashion, I bought tickets to the ball as soon as they went on sale but left making my outfit until the last minute. I have a lousy memory, so details from May are lost to the mists of time, but I’m pretty sure I whipped this up the night before the ball.

As luck would have it, this dress is perfect for dancing in, the multi-paneled skirt adding lots of volume for twirling. Plus, due to being sewn in a knit fabric, it’s comfier than your average party dress.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

I think this fabric was a Guthrie & Ghani purchase, and was definitely bought with a Colette Wren in mind, but instead it became a Victory Patterns Jackie dress. It has a really nice weight and a subtle sparkle.

Despite the multiple panels, this dress is actually a fairly quick sew, and would make an excellent Christmas party dress.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

These pictures were taken in the grounds of a local Jacobean house museum, Aston Hall, during a food festival event Phil and I attended. The event was sold out and the grounds full of people, so I’m impressed at just how peaceful we’ve made it seem in these photos.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress


SewBrum 2017 Sign-Up

SewBrum 2017 Logo by Maike Plenzke

Sign-up is now open for the SewBrum meet-up on Saturday 28th October: Sign Up Here!

♥ What? ♥

A (free-to-attend) meet-up of people who love to sew. Everyone is welcome, just sign-up using the form above/below to give us an idea of numbers.

♥ Itinerary ♥

The planned itinerary for Saturday 28th October is below. Attendees can feel free to dip in and out, or only attend for part of the day.

10:00 – 11:00: Meet at John Lewis Cafe & Haberdashery

We’ll be meeting in John Lewis Cafe (The Place to Eat), where we’ll be able to drink tea and/or eat brunch while everyone arrives. We’ll also be able to shop in the Haberdashery, which is located on the same floor as the cafe (4th floor).

P.S. If you’re arriving by train, John Lewis is located in the same building as New Street Station – and the other stations (Moor Street and Snow Hill) are only a 10-15 minute walk.

P.P.S John Lewis opens at 9am for anyone arriving early.

11:00 – 13:00Birmingham Rag Market & Fabric Shops

We’ll spend a couple of hours shopping for fabric at the Rag Market and nearby fabric shops, Barry’s Fabric, EU FabricsFancy Silk Store (who are also on Facebook).

13:00 – 13:30: Reconvene and travel to Moseley Village (Guthrie & Ghani) by bus

The journey between the city centre and Moseley only takes 15 minutes by bus, and buses are every 5-10 minutes.

13:30 – 17:00Guthrie & Ghani / Lunch

At Guthrie & Ghani we’ll have time in the shop which sells a wide range of sewing and knitting supplies, and we’ll have use of the studio above the shop where we will be able to natter, compare purchases, and hold a pattern & fabric swap.

Attendees can also grab lunch at one of the nearby pubs or cafes. The Village and The Dark Horse bar/restaurant are both a couple of minutes walk from Guthrie & Ghani, and there are lots of other options available within Moseley Village.

♥ Sign-Up Form ♥

If you’re planning to attend the 2017 meet-up let us know by filling in the Sign Up Form.

Everyone will be welcome. Hope you can make it x

Logo by illustrator and sewist Maike Plenzke.

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Seamwork Loretta

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

Ahh, how satisfying to find time to write an actual blog post. A lot of bloggers will post after some time away to say that they haven’t found time to blog, but have been doing lots of sewing. Well, I haven’t been doing either!

Over the last few months, my evenings and weekends have been spent catching up with work, preparing for the Sewing Weekender (and I didn’t take on as much in the run up as Kate or Rachel did), or with friends. Work has been especially busy, as I took on a new role at the University where I work at the same time as supporting Clearing (where students find a place with a University post A-level results). Clearing is all consuming while it’s underway, so that it not only sucks up all of your time, but also makes you into a total bore for a few months, as it is basically all you want to talk about! Sorry to everyone I bored to death talking about phone lines and call volumes…

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

I’ve missed the acts of sewing and blogging, and I also missed being able to add to my wardrobe on a whim when I fancied something new to wear (I did order three new dresses from People Tree one evening in a sulk). Anyway, I’ve found a little time for blogging now, with sewing to follow soon.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

Phil is somewhat holiday obsessed and was really keen to go away for his birthday in July, but we compromised on a post-Sewing Weekender and post-Clearing long weekend in Porto in late August. Before we traveled I managed to finish this Seamwork Loretta blouse which I had started before work got crazy.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

This is View 1, tunic length, in the smallest size. I’m actually going to go back and cut this to top length (View 2), as I think it will be more versatile and suit me better; being small, I feel a bit drowned in the volume of fabric at this length. This top can be worn on or off the shoulders, but until the length is reduced I prefer it off the shoulders, otherwise it looks a bit proportionally unbalanced on me. One thing to note, the armholes are quite large and, when the blouse is worn on the shoulders, potentially a bit revealing.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

I purchased this fabric while in Tokyo earlier this year from the large Tomato store in Nippori Fabric District. It’s a lightweight cotton with a traditional-style Japanese print. I restricted my shopping to three fabrics while in Nippori, and am looking forward to sewing with the other two soon.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

Right, I’m off to catch up with another hobby I have neglected – social media and the newsletter for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, which I support as a volunteer.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

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The Sewing Weekender 2017 Attendee Blog Posts & Vlogs

The Sewing Weekender 2017

I finally blogged a few thoughts on, and photos from, the The Sewing Weekender yesterday, but lots of attendees were much quicker. I really enjoyed reading/watching these and wanted to share. Enjoy!

Blog Posts

♥ Ann at SewWatts.

♥ Beth at The Purple Stitcher.

♥ Elena at Randomly Happy blogged about using mindfulness to blog with more joy, following her talk on the subject at the Weekender.

♥ Elle at Sew Positivity.

♥ Emily at Self Assembly Required.

♥ Emma at Crafty Clyde.

♥ Jen at Ginger Thread Girl.

♥ Kathy at Sew Dainty.

♥ Melissa at Fehr Trade. Melissa also blogged a top made with Stoff and Stil fabric from the Weekender goodie bag.

♥ Sarah at Like Sew Amazing.

♥ Victoria at Sew My Own.


♥  Harriet at Hobbling Handmade:

♥ Jen at Ginger Thread Girl:

♥  Sarah at Like Sew Amazing: